Cloquet athletic fields upgrade is on time


August 11, 2023

Levi Nelson

The former grass football/soccer field at Cloquet High School is filled with new dirt and sand and awaits a fresh green coat of artificial turf Monday night. A new complex of eight tennis courts sits on the far side of the field with a coat of asphalt. The new shot put area is visible on the left side of the field, behind the bleachers.

Over the summer, the Cloquet High School outdoor athletic facilities have been transformed. This week saw another milestone in the $4.9 million project, as workers began installing bright green turf on the shared football and soccer field.

"It is exciting," said Cloquet activities director Paul Riess. "The amount of work done is amazing. Every time I see something new I get excited."

Drone film footage taken Tuesday showed rolls and rolls of turf waiting to be laid down on the new football/soccer field. According to some close to the football program, it will take about 3-4 weeks for work on the artificial turf to be completed.

"We are right on schedule," facilities director Dylan Carlson said. "Weather has been very much in our favor up to this point."

Observers will notice new developments almost daily with some of the more prominent aspects of the new Members Cooperative Credit Union Athletic Complex project still to come.

"The scoreboard was scheduled to be shipped this week," Carlson said. "The chain link fencing will be installed this month and the track surface will be installed after the turf product has been put down. The tennis courts will be surfaced at the end of the project."

On schedule

A summer almost devoid of rain has allowed contractors to race ahead full speed as they continue to be on pace for the completion of the project by mid-October.

"Between the contractors and our facility director (Carlson), they have done a great job of meeting timelines and keeping the work on schedule," said Cloquet superintendent Michael Cary.

Peterson Companies handled the massive task of dirt work at the 22nd Street location.

First the field had to be stripped of old dirt. Then load after load of new dirt was trucked into the site.

"They have experience doing the major dirt work for a number of the turf field projects across the state and region," Cary said.

Once the dirt work was done, asphalt was put down around the track and the tennis courts and the trim around the courts and track was also completed. Piping for the fencing around the brand- new eight tennis courts has been set, wiring for the new massive scoreboard on the football/soccer field is done and the goal post insets are in place.

While a lot of work has already taken place, there is still plenty to be done.

"Once they start installing the turf, I think the excitement level will get kicked up a notch from everyone at the school and in the community," Riess said. "We needed these facilities to be updated. Our tennis courts were almost not usable with all the cracks, the track was nearing a replacement date, and we are one of the last schools our size up north to get a turf field."

The main contractor for the complex is Kraus-Anderson with Peterson Companies handling the dirt work and the fencing for the tennis courts. Ulland Brothers laid the black top for the track and the tennis courts. The turf on the football field will be installed by FieldTurf and the scoreboard was purchased from AIM Electronics, which will also handle the installation upon arrival.

"The project is scheduled to run through the end of September, assuming weather cooperates throughout the duration," Cary said. "The final coating processes for the track and tennis courts are very weather-sensitive."

At this point, because the weather has cooperated, there could be a small chance of a game being played this fall. No one involved with the project will commit to anything other than the expected timeline being met.

Jana Peterson

The tennis courts glisten in the rain Wednesday at the renovated athletic complex in Cloquet.

The first soccer games are scheduled for Aug. 25, with the Cloquet girls playing a home game at Hilltop soccer fields and the boys - who are combined Cloquet-Esko-Carlton - scheduled for a home game at Esko. They play the next day at Hilltop, their other home away from home. The Cloquet boys varsity football team will play most of its home football games at Egerdahl Field in Proctor this fall, including an away game there against Proctor.

The final home football game on Oct. 18 is listed at Public Schools Stadium in West Duluth, "unless Cloquet's field is ready."


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